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Judit Polgár

Judit Polgár
Judit Polgár, 2008 Sparkassen Chess-Meeting
Full name Judit Polgár
Country Hungary
Born (1976-07-23) 23 July 1976
Budapest, Hungarian People's Republic
Title Grandmaster (1991)
FIDE rating 2675 (January 2015) (No. 65 player and No. 1 woman in the August 2014 FIDE World Rankings)
Peak rating 2735
(No. 8 player and No. 1 woman in the July 2005 FIDE World Rankings)

Judit Polgár (born 23 July 1976) is a Hungarian chess grandmaster. She is by far the strongest female chess player in history.[1] In 1991, Polgár achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of 15 years and 4 months, at the time the youngest to have done so, breaking the record previously held by former World Champion Bobby Fischer. She is the only woman to qualify for a World Championship tournament, having done so in 2005. She is the first, and to date, only woman to have surpassed the 2700 Elo rating barrier, reaching a career peak rating of 2735 and peak world ranking of #8, both achieved in 2005. She has been the #1 rated woman in the world since 1989 (when she was 12 years old).

She has won or shared first in the chess tournaments of Hastings 1993, Madrid 1994, León 1996, U.S. Open 1998, Hoogeveen 1999, Siegman 1999, Japfa 2000, and the Najdorf Memorial 2000.[2]

Polgár is the only woman to have won a game from a reigning world number one player, and has defeated ten current or former world champions in either rapid or classical chess: Magnus Carlsen, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Boris Spassky, Vasily Smyslov, Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexander Khalifman, and Rustam Kasimdzhanov.[3]

On August 13, 2014, she announced her retirement from competitive chess.[4][5]


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Child prodigy 2.1
    • Grandmaster 2.2
      • Kasparov touch-move controversy 2.2.1
    • Strongest female player ever 2.3
    • Making history 2.4
    • Combining family and chess 2.5
    • Return to competition 2.6
  • Playing style 3
  • Chess professional 4
  • Personal life 5
  • Illustrative games 6
  • Literature 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Polgár was born on 23 July 1976 in Budapest, to a Hungarian Jewish family.[6] Polgár and her two older sisters, Grandmaster Susan and International Master Sofia, were part of an educational experiment carried out by their father László Polgár, in an attempt to prove that children could make exceptional achievements if trained in a specialist subject from a very early age.[7] "Geniuses are made, not born", was László's thesis. He and his wife Klára educated their three daughters at home, with chess as the specialist subject. László also taught his three daughters the international language Esperanto. They received resistance from Hungarian authorities as home-schooling was not a "socialist" approach. They also received criticism at the time from some western commentators for depriving the sisters of a normal childhood. However, by most reports the girls appeared happy and well-adjusted.

Traditionally, chess had been a male-dominated activity, and women were often seen as weaker players, thus advancing the idea of a Women's World Champion.[8] However, from the beginning, László was against the idea that his daughters had to participate in female-only events. "Women are able to achieve results similar, in fields of intellectual activities, to that of men," he wrote. "Chess is a form of intellectual activity, so this applies to chess. Accordingly, we reject any kind of discrimination in this respect."[9] This put the Polgárs in conflict with the Hungarian Chess Federation of the day, whose policy was for women to play in women-only tournaments. Polgár's older sister, Susan, first fought the bureaucracy by playing in men's tournaments and refusing to play in women's tournaments. Susan Polgár, when she was a 15-year-old International Master, said in 1985 that it was due to this conflict that she had not been awarded the Grandmaster title despite having made the norm eleven times.[10]


Polgár has rarely played in women's-specific tournaments or divisions and has never competed for the Women's World Championship. "I always say that women should have the self-confidence that they are as good as male players, but only if they are willing to work and take it seriously as much as male players," she said.[11] While László Polgár has been credited with being an excellent chess coach,[12] the Polgárs had also employed professional chessplayers to train their daughters, including Hungarian champion IM Tibor Florian, GM Pal Benko and Russian GM Alexander Chernin.[13][14][15] Susan Polgár, the eldest of the sisters, 5½ years older than Sophia and 7 years older than Judit, was the first of the sisters to achieve prominence in chess by winning tournaments and by 1986 she was the world's top-rated female chess player.[16][17][18] Initially, being the youngest, Judit was separated from her sisters while they were in training. However, this only served to increase Judit's curiosity. After learning the rules, they discovered Judit was able to find solutions to the problems they were studying and she began to be invited into the group.[19] One evening Susan was studying an endgame with their trainer, a strong International Master. Unable to find the solution they woke Judit, who was asleep in bed and carried her into the training room. Still half asleep, Judit showed them how to solve the problem, after which they put her back to bed.[7] László Polgár's experiment would produce a family of one international master and two grandmasters and would strengthen the argument for nurture over nature, but also prove women could be grandmasters of chess.[20]

Child prodigy

Trained in her early years by her sister Susan, who ultimately became Women's World Champion, Judit Polgár was a prodigy from an early age. At age five she defeated a family friend without looking at the board. After the game the friend joked, "You are good at chess, but I'm a good cook." Judit replied, "Do you cook without looking at the stove?"[21] However, according to Susan, Judit was not the sister with the most talent, explaining "Judit was a slow starter, but very hard-working."[22] Polgár described herself at that age as "obsessive" about chess.[23] She first defeated an International Master, Dolfi Drimer, at age 10,[24] and a grandmaster, Lev Gutman, at age 11.[25]

J. Polgár–V. Metodiev, Albena, 1986
a b c d e f g h
a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
g8 black king
c7 black queen
d7 black pawn
f7 black rook
h7 black pawn
a6 black pawn
g6 black pawn
d5 black pawn
e5 white pawn
g5 white queen
c4 black pawn
d4 white knight
f3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
c1 white king
d1 white rook
h1 white rook
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
1.Rxh7 Rxh7 2.Qxg6+ Kh8 3.Qe8+ with mate to follow. Polgár was 10 years old.[26][27]

Judit started playing in tournaments at six years old and by age nine her rating with the Hungarian Chess Federation was 2080. She was a member of the chess club in Budapest where she would get experience from master level players.[28] In 1984 in Budapest, Sophia and Judit, at the time nine and seven years of age respectively, played two games of blindfold chess against two masters which they won. At one point, the girls complained that one of their opponents was playing too slowly and suggested a clock should be used.[29]

In April 1986, nine-year-old Judit played in her first rated tournament in the U.S., finishing first in the unrated section of the New York Open, winning $1,000.[30] All three Polgár sisters competed. Susan, 16, competed in the grandmaster section and had a victory against GM Walter Browne and Sophia, 11, finished second in her section, but Judit gathered most of the attention in the tournament. Grandmasters would drop by to watch the serious, quiet child playing.[28] She won her first seven games before drawing the final game. Although the unrated section had many of the weaker players in the Open, it also had players of expert strength, who were foreign to the United States and had not been rated yet. Milorad Boskovic related a conversation with Judit's sixth-round opponent, a Yugoslav player he knew to be a strong expert, "He told me he took some chances in the game because he couldn't believe she was going to attack so well."[31] Not able to speak English, her mother interpreted as she told a reporter her goal was to be a chess professional. When the reporter asked her if she would be world champion one day, Judit answered, "I will try."[28]

In late 1986, ten-year-old Judit defeated 52-year-old Romanian IM Dolfi Drimer in the Adsteam Lidums International Tournament in Adelaide, Australia. Edmar Mednis said he played his best game of the tournament against Judit. "I was careful in that game", he said. "Grandmasters don't like to lose to 10-year-old girls, because then we make the front page of all the papers."[32]

In 1988, Judit and her sisters along with Ildikó Mádl, represented Hungary in the Women's section of the 28th Chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki. The International Chess Federation would not permit the Polgárs to play against men in team competitions.[33] Prior to the tournament, Eduard Gufeld, Soviet GM and team coach for the Soviet women's team, dismissed the Polgárs. "I believe that these girls are going to lose a good part of their quickly acquired image in the 28th Olympiad", he said. "Afterward we are going to know if the Hungarian sisters are geniuses or just women!"[34] However, Hungary's women's team won the championship, which marked the first time it was not won by the Soviet Union. Judit played board 2 and finished the tournament with the highest score of 12½–½ to win the individual gold medal.[35] She also won the brilliancy prize for her game against Pavlina Angelova.[36]

Also in 1988, Polgár won the under-12 "Boys" section of the World Youth Chess and Peace Festival in Timișoara, Romania.[37] In October 1988, Polgár finished first in a 10-player round-robin tournament in London, scoring 7–2, for a half point lead over Israeli GM Yair Kraidman.[38] In 1988, she made her first International Master norm in the International B section of the New York Open[39] and by November 1988 she was awarded the IM title, at the time the youngest ever to have achieved the distinction.[40] Both Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov were 14 when they were awarded the title. Polgár was 12.[41] It was during this time that former World Champion Mikhail Tal said Polgár had the potential to win the men's World Championship.[42]

Judit with sister Sofia at Thessaloniki 1988

Judit was asked about playing against boys instead of the girls' section of tournaments. "These other girls are not serious about chess", she said. "I practice five or six hours a day. But they get distracted by cooking and work around the house."[41] By age 12, she was rated 2555, which was 35 rating points ahead of the Women's World Champion Maia Chiburdanidze.[43] Judit's quiet and modest demeanour at the board[44] contrasted with the intensity of her playing style. David Norwood, British GM, in recalling Judit beating him when he was an established player and she was just a child, described her as, "this cute little auburn-haired monster who crushed you."[45] British journalist Dominic Lawson wrote about 12-year-old Judit's "killer" eyes and how she would stare at her opponent. "The irises are so grey so dark they are almost indistinguishable from the pupils. Set against her long red hair, the effect is striking."[46]

Before age 13 she had broken into the top 100 players in the world and the British Chess Magazine declared, "Judit Polgár's recent results make the performances of Fischer and Kasparov at a similar age pale by comparison."[21] British GM Nigel Short called Judit "one of the three or four greatest chess prodigies in history."[47] The other great chess prodigies being Paul Morphy, José Capablanca and Samuel Reshevsky.[13] However, not everyone was as enthusiastic and she also had to face prejudice because of her sex. "She has fantastic chess talent", said Kasparov. "but she is, after all, a woman. It all comes down to the imperfections of the feminine psyche. No woman can sustain a prolonged battle."[47] However, Kasparov revised that opinion later in life, writing that "the Polgars showed that there are no inherent limitations to their aptitude—an idea that many male players refused to accept until they had unceremoniously been crushed by a twelve-year-old with a ponytail."[48]

In 1989, Polgár tied with Boris Gelfand for third in the OHRA Open in Amsterdam.[49]

By now, numerous books and articles had been written about the Polgár sisters, making them famous even outside of the world of chess. In 1989, American President

Preceded by
Bobby Fischer
Youngest chess grandmaster ever
Succeeded by
Peter Leko
  • Official website
  • Judit Polgár at DMOZ
  • Judit Polgár player profile and games at
  • "Judit Polgár The Princess of Chess"Review of . 
  • 2012 Interview of Judit Polgár
  • Judit Polgar's perfect weekend
  • Interview for BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour

External links

  1. ^ a b Sources citing Polgár as by far the strongest female chess player of all time:
    • "Anand wins chess "Battle of the Sexes"". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Associated Press. 2003-08-18. p. 6A.  note: The Associated Press story on Aug.17/18, 2003 on the Polgár–Anand match explicitly refers to Polgár with the words "by far the strongest woman chess player ever"
    • "Polgar, Judit". Encyclodedia Britannica Online. Retrieved May 8, 2011.  note: explicitly uses "by far": "By far the strongest female player of all timer".
    • "Super-GM tournament in Sofia starts". 12 May 2005. Retrieved 18 April 2010. 
    • "'"Judit Polgár: 'I can work myself into the top ten again.  
    • McClain, Dylan Loeb (2006-12-24). "Chess; The Secret of Playing Blindfold: Memory May Be the Least of It". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 April 2010. 
    • "Women Grandmasters in Chess". MichaelBluejay. Retrieved 2010-04-13. 
    • Pein, Malcolm (2009-09-22). "A crown for Kosteniuk". London: Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 2010-04-18.  Malcolm Pein, British IM and Executive Editor of CHESS magazine, when speaking of A. Kosteniuk's victory over Hou Yifan for the Women's World Champtionship, said "Currently Judit Polgár is in another league from any other female player."
    • "Elite Players Of Chess To Compete". The New York Times. 2005-05-17. Retrieved 2010-04-18. 
    • Humber, James M.; Almeder, Robert F. Human cloning. Humana Press inc. p. 87.  
    • Weber, Bruce (1996-12-22). "Next Move? Chess enthusiasts puzzle over game's gender imbalance". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 17A. 
    •   Kavalek, GM in the top 100 players for 26 years, called Polgár, "the all-time best female player"
    •   Panolfini, chess author and coach, writes "Judit Polgár is simply the strongest female chess player in history."
    • The January 1996 FIDE ratings list was a landmark as Polgár's 2675 rating made her the No. 10 ranked player in the world, the only woman ever to enter the world's Top Ten. Berry, Jonathan (1996-01-06). "Kramnick, 20 Tops the rating list". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). p. A12. 
    • "All Time Rankings:FIDE Top 10 1970–1997". The University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 2010-05-15. 
  2. ^  
  3. ^ "Judit Polgár". Judit Polgár. Retrieved Feb 10, 2014. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Her official statement on her retirement
  6. ^ Breaking Through: How the Polgar Sisters Changed the Game of Chess, (Everyman Chess 2005), Susan Polgar, page 14
  7. ^ a b Shenk, David (2006). The Immortal Game: Or How 32 carved pieces on a board illuminated our understanding of war, art, science, and the human brain. Anchor Canada/Random House. p. 132.  
  8. ^ Carlisle, Rodney P. (2009). Encyclopedia of play in today's society. Sage Publications, Inc. p. 129.  
  9. ^ Koza, Patricia (UPI) (Nov 9, 1986). "Sisters test male domination of chess". The Mohave Daily Miner (Kingman, Arizona). p. B2. 
  10. ^ Harold C. Schonberg (March 30, 1985). "Top-rated at 15, Girl Challenges Chess World". The New York Times. Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  11. ^ Phillips, Sean (2010-08-15). "A Gender Divide In The Ultimate Sport Of The Mind". NPR. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  12. ^   Pandolfini, chess author and coach, writes "Judit Polgár is simply the strongest female chess player in history."
  13. ^ a b Harold C. Schonberg (March 18, 1989). "Top-Rated Female Chess Player Is Just One of Three Stars at Home". The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2011. 
  14. ^ Bruce Weber (August 5, 1992). "Chess Moves Are Planned. Birthdays Happen.". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2011. 
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  16. ^ a b "Judit Polgár Biography". Judit Polgár. Retrieved Mar 19, 2011. 
  17. ^ a b "Biography of Susan Polgar". Susan Polgar. Retrieved Mar 22, 2011. 
  18. ^ "20 Questions with Susan Polgar". Chessville. Retrieved Mar 22, 2011. 
  19. ^ a b c "Judit Polgár in Rocca di Papa". Chessbase. Jan 7, 2011. Retrieved Jan 16, 2011. 
  20. ^ What Makes a Genius. Scientific American. 2008. p. 102.   Note: From article The Expert Mind by Philip E. Ross Aug 2006 issue. The Ross article uses the wording "proves" nurture over nature.
  21. ^ a b Lyman, Shelby (Jan 8, 1989). "Talented chess players are all in the Polgar family". The Sunday Telegraph (Nashua, New Hampshire). p. F-2. 
  22. ^ Dweck, Carol S. (2006). Mindset: the new psychology of success. The Random House Publishing Group. p. 80.  
  23. ^ Desjarlais, Robert R. (2011). Counterplay: An Anthropologist at the Chessboard. University of California Press. p. 140.  
  24. ^ "Judit Polgár vs Dolfi Drimer". Retrieved 2010-05-15. 
  25. ^ "Judit Polgár vs Lev Gutman". Retrieved 2010-05-15. 
  26. ^ Polgár, László (1994). Chess:5334 Problems, Combinations and Games. Tess Press.  p.1018 diagram 5231
  27. ^ "Judit Polgár 1 - Metodiev 0" (in Spanish). Javier Cordero Fernández. Retrieved July 22, 2011.  Complete game.
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  29. ^ a b Hearst, Eliot; Knott, John (2009). Blindford chess: history, psychology, techniques, champions, world records and important games. McFarland & Company, Ltd. pp. 136–137.  
  30. ^ "Young masters". The Pittsburgh Press 102 (284). 1986-04-07. p. A2. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ Lyman, Shelby (1987-02-08). "Younger sisters are also proficient". The Sunday Telegraph 1 (45) (Nashua and Southern New Hampshire). 
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  34. ^ Robert Byne (March 21, 1989). "Chess". The New York Times. Retrieved Apr 5, 2011. 
  35. ^ Day, Lawrence (1988-12-17). "Soviet Union captures World team championship". The Toronto Star. p. M21. 
  36. ^ Byrne, Robert (1989-01-10). "Chess". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  37. ^ Berry, Jonathan (1988-10-01). "Youth tourneys are growing trend". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). p. C16. 
  38. ^ Day, Lawrence (1989-02-04). "Challenge meet largest ever". The Toronto Star. p. M21.  note: Day incorrectly gives Judit's age as 10. Score of Polgár–Hennigen game is provided with brief analysis.
  39. ^ Lyman, Shelby (1988-04-24). "Tournaments attract 1,060 players". The Sunday Telegraph (Nashua, New Hampshire). p. F-2. 
  40. ^ Lyman, Shelby (1988-10-30). "Hungarian girl may be next world champion". The Sunday Telegraph (Nashua, New Hampshire). p. F-2. 
  41. ^ a b "Girl stuns chess world". The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash). Associated Press. 1988-11-02. p. A1. 
  42. ^ a b Shelby Lyman (Oct 30, 1988). "Hungarian girl may be next world champion". Nashua, New Hampshire: The Sunday Telegraph. p. F-2. 
  43. ^ Koshnitsky, Garry (1989-01-22). "Polgar highest rated woman". The Sun-Herald (Sydney, Australia). p. 156. 
  44. ^ a b "Hungarian teen-ager achieves rank of chess grandmaster". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). New York Times Service. 1992-02-05. p. A9. 
  45. ^ a b c Allott, Serena (2002-01-16). "Queen takes all". London: Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  46. ^ Lawson, Dominic (Spectator) (1988-11-15). "Mastering the world of chess". The Age (41,642) (Melbourne, Australia). p. 11. 
  47. ^ a b Lidz, Franz (1990-02-12). "Kid With A Killer Game". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  48. ^ Kasparov, Garry (2007). How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves, from the Board to the Boardroom. Bloomsbury Publishing USA.  
  49. ^ Day, Lawrence (Jan 13, 1990). "Gelfand takes first for U.S.S.R.". The Toronto Star. p. M17. 
  50. ^ Bill Wall. "Chess in the Movies". Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  51. ^ Saylor, Mark (September 5, 1997). Chess Kids' Documentary a Weak Move"'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  52. ^ Berry, Jonathan (1990-08-25). "Soviet dark horses dominating U.S. play". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). p. F10. 
  53. ^ Day, Lawrence (1992-01-04). "Defending champion loses her 13-year title". Toronto Star. p. J11.  Note: Day writes that with this tournament Polgár "collected her third and final Grandmaster norm." This implies this was sufficient to earn the GM title, however most accounts indicate she won the title with the Hungarian championship in December.
  54. ^ "Vienna 1991". Retrieved 2010-05-08. 
  55. ^ "Hungarian chess whiz is youngest grandmaster ever". The News (Boca Raton, Florida). 1992-02-05. p. 3A. 
  56. ^ Berry, Jonathan (1992-02-08). "Girl, 15, youngest Grandmaster ever". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). p. A13. 
  57. ^ Byrne, Robert (1992-06-28). "CHESS; For Karpov, Defeat Only Serves as a Spur". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  58. ^ Byrne, Robert (1992-08-09). "Chess; Peruvian Wins Reshevsky Memorial". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  59. ^ Byrne, Robert (1992-10-11). "CHESS; Senior Grandmasters Defeat Women, 39 to 33". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  60. ^ Byrne, Robert (1993-02-21). "CHESS; A Polgar Triumph Before Her Triumph". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  61. ^ Lundstrom, Harold (1993-02-26). "Kasparov primes for defense by breezing through 100 foes". The Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah). p. W8. 
  62. ^ Berry, Jonathan (1993-05-29). "More than meets the eyes". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). p. A13. 
  63. ^ "Amber-blind 2nd Monte Carlo 1993". Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  64. ^ Berry, Jonathan (1993-05-15). "Polgar moves up to Interzonal". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). p. E9. 
  65. ^ "Budapest zt-A Budapest 1993". Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  66. ^ "Budapest zt playoff Budapest 1993". Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  67. ^ Mark Weeks. "1993 Biel FIDE Interzonal Tournament". 
  68. ^ Mark Weeks. "1993 Groningen PCA Qualifying Tournament". 
  69. ^ a b Polgar, Susan (2009-01-18). "Polgar: Remembering a chess champion, the late Bobby Fischer". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal/Lubbock online. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
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  86. ^   note: Berry, himself a Fide Master and International Arbiter, describes the incident "Mr. Kasparov picked up his knight at d7 and placed it on c5. "Touch move" requires a player to move a touched piece, but the move is not over until the hand leaves the piece. Seeing that 37.Bb7–c6 would be bad for Black, Mr. Kasparov instead put the knight on f8. However, the way Miss Polgár saw it, Mr. Kasparov's hand did leave the piece on c5. Accounts diverge from there. We do know that Spanish TV recorded the game and that there were several spectators, some of whom thought that Mr. Kasparov removed his hand from the knight at c5.
  87. ^ Berry, Jonathan (1994-03-26). "Kasparov caught on videotape". Globe and Mail (Toronto). p. E7.  note: Quoting from article, "During round 5 of the Linares tournament (March 1), World Champion Gary Kasparov started to move his knight from d7 to c5, but reconsidered and played the knight to f8."
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  • Hurst, Sarah (2002), Curse of Kirsan: Adventures in the Chess Underworld, Russell Enterprises,  
  • Polgár, Judit;  
  • Polgar, Judit (2010), Chess Playground, Caissa Hungary,  


  • J. Polgár–V. Anand, Dos Hermanas 1999 Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen Variation. Delayed Keres Attack Perenyi Gambit (B90) · 1–0 Former trainer for the Polgárs, IM Tibor Károlyi, called this the most beautiful game ever played by a woman.[220][221]
  • Judit Polgár–Ferenc Berkes, Hunguest Hotels Super Chess Tournament 2003 · French Defense: Classical. Burn Variation Main Line (C11) · 1–0 Judit's opponent falls for a clever trap, expecting her to play 14.Bxa8 and he would reply with 14...g4!, but she springs 14.g4!![222]
  • Alexey Shirov–Judit Polgar, Buenos Aires ARG 1994 · Sicilian Defense: Paulsen. Normal Variation (B45) · 0–1 Polgár uses a novelty to break up Shirov's pawn front. She used only 48 minutes to win this game.
  • Polgár–Garry Kasparov, Russia vs. The Rest of the World match, Moscow 2002 Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. l'Hermet Variation (C67) · 1–0 Polgár makes history when, for the first time ever, a woman defeats the world's No. 1 chess player in a game.

Illustrative games

In August 2000, Polgár married Hungarian veterinary surgeon Gusztáv Font.[126][218] They have two children, a boy named Olivér and a girl named Hanna.[219] While Judit remained in Hungary, the rest of her family eventually emigrated: Sofia and her parents to Israel and later to Canada, and Susan to the United States.[45]

Members of Polgár's family perished in the Holocaust, and her grandmother was a survivor of an Auschwitz concentration camp.[217]

Personal life

In March 2013 she was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary Commander's Cross with Star, the second highest award that can be made to a Hungarian civilian, "for her worldwide acknowledged life achievement as an athlete, for promoting the game of chess and for her efforts to promote the educational benefits of chess."

Polgár authored a children's book on chess, Chess Playground. Her sister Sofia provided illustrations.[215] In recent years, Polgár designed a chess programme for the older students of a kindergarten school in Budapest, Hungary.[216]

Despite being the highest-rated woman for twenty years, Polgár has never competed for the women's world championship and in a 2011 interview was asked about this possibility. Polgár said that in the past she has never been interested in competing for it, but in recent years "the mentality of a couple of the women players has changed". Polgár said that for her to consider competing it would have to be a challenge and "if I get an extremely nice offer just to play for the title."[211][212]

Concentrating on her two children left Polgár with little time to train and play competitively and her ranking dropped from eighth in 2005 to the mid-50s in 2009. However, as of September 2010 Polgár remained the only woman in the top 100 and still the only woman to have ever made the top 10.[214] Comparing motherhood to playing chess, Polgár has said that a chess tournament now "feels like a vacation."[19] When asked why she came back to chess after taking time off to care for her children, she said "I cannot live without chess! It is an integral part of my life. I enjoy the game!"[210]

Polgár has said she does not have a permanent coach although she does have help from GM Lev Psakhis or GM Mihail Marin.[19][210] She said she rarely uses a second and when she travels to tournaments it is usually her husband who accompanies her.[211][212] Polgár said she has changed how she prepares for tournaments. "I make more use of my experience now and try to work more efficiently so that my efforts aren't wasted", she said in 2008.[213]

"You have to be very selfish sometimes", said Polgár in speaking of the life of professional chessplayer. "If you are in a tournament, you have to think of yourself—you can't think of your wife or children—only about yourself."[126] When asked in 2002 if she still desired to win the world championship she said, "Chess is my profession and of course I hope to improve. But I'm not going to give up everything to become world champion; I have my life."[45]

Polgár at the 2008 Mainz Chess Classic

Chess professional

Polgár has spoken of appreciating the psychological aspect of chess. She has stated preferring to learn an opponent's style so she can play intentionally against him rather than playing "objective" chess.[208] In her 2002 victory over Kasparov, she deliberately chose a line Kasparov used against Vladimir Kramnik, employing the strategy of forcing the opponent to "play against himself". Kasparov's response was inadequate and he soon found himself in an inferior position.[129] In an interview regarding playing against computers she said, "Chess is 30 to 40% psychology. You don't have this when you play a computer. I can't confuse it."[209]

Polgár is especially adept at faster time controls. When she was still a youth, Der Spiegel wrote of her, "her tactical thunderstorms during blitz games have confounded many opponents, who are rated higher."[42]

While having a solid understanding of positional play, Polgár excels in tactics and is known for an aggressive playing style, striving to maximize the initiative and actively pursuing complications.[201] The former World Champion Garry Kasparov wrote that, based upon her games, "if to 'play like a girl' meant anything in chess, it would mean relentless aggression."[202] In her youth, she was especially popular with the fans due to her willingness to employ wild gambits and attacks.[203] As a teenager, Polgár has been credited with contributing to the popularity of the opening variation King's Bishop's Gambit.[204] Polgár prefers aggressive openings, playing 1.e4 as White and the Sicilian or King's Indian Defence with black, but she has also said her opening choices will also depend upon her trainer.[15][201][205] Jennifer Shahade, writer and two-time U.S. women's chess champion, suggested that the influence of Polgár as a role model may be one of the reasons women play more aggressive chess than men.[206] Describing an individual encounter with Polgár, former U.S. Champion Joel Benjamin said, "It was all-out war for five hours. I was totally exhausted. She is a tiger at the chessboard. She absolutely has a killer instinct. You make one mistake and she goes right for the throat."[207]

Playing style

In 2014, in the World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship, she came 26th in the Blitz championship and 56th in the Rapid championship.

On October 5, 2013,[198] Polgár played Nigel Short in the eighteenth edition of's Death Match. The final score was 17½-10½ in Polgár's favor. They played 28 games in total, separated into three stages of increasingly faster time controls, the first being 5+1, the second 3+1 and finally 1+1. Polgár later remarked on her Facebook page that "it was great fun to play against Nigel..."[199] Nigel in turn tweeted in jest, "Such bad chess. I should go and hang myself..."[200]

To begin 2012, in January Polgár competed in the Tradewise Gibraltar tournament finishing with 7 points in 10 games. For the first time in twenty years since she lost to her sister Susan, Polgár lost her first classical game to a female player as Women's World champion Hou Yifan won their individual game and tied for first before losing the playoff to Nigel Short.[196][197]

In September 2011, Polgár finally returned to "Super GM" status with a FIDE rating of 2701 and by November she had raised it to 2710 and ranked 35 in the world.[194][195]

In September 2011, Polgár competed in the Chess World Cup, a 128-player tournament with a large prize fund and qualification to the top three for the World Championship cycle. Polgár made it to the final 8 players before she was eliminated by Peter Svidler. A highlight for Polgár was her elimination of the tournament's No. 1 seed and world's fifth highest rated player, Sergey Karjakin.[190][191][192] In October 2011, Polgár took part in the Unive 2011 competition. She finished last in the elite four-player Crown group, losing games to Vladimir Kramnik and Anish Giri.[193]

On 2 April 2011, Polgár finished in a four-way tie for first in the European Individual Chess Championship in Aix-les-Bains, France.[185] The tournament, of 393 players of which 167 were Grandmasters, was won by Russian Vladimir Potkin on tie-break, GM Radosław Wojtaszek won the silver, while Polgár placed third, winning the bronze.[186] Polgár was praised for her creative attacks and endgame technique.[187] Polgár became the first woman ever to finish in the top three of the male championship.[188] Continuing Polgár's return to competitive chess, in July 2011 she participated in the 39th Greek Team National Championship scoring 3½ out of 4 games. Also in July 2011, Polgár played Board 3 for Hungary in the World Team Championships. Hungary finished in fifth place of the ten teams and individually Polgár sixteenth of the fifty players.[189]

Judit Polgár–Romain Edouard
European Ch., Aix-les-Bains, 2011
a b c d e f g h
d8 black rook
h8 black king
f7 white rook
d6 black pawn
g6 black pawn
h6 black pawn
d5 white bishop
e5 black pawn
g5 white pawn
c4 white pawn
h4 white pawn
d2 black bishop
f2 white pawn
g2 white king
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position after 35...h6. In an apparent draw, Polgár finds the winning move: 36.h5! threatening to place a pawn on g6. The game continued: 36...Rg8 37.Rd7 Rg7 38.Bf7 1–0.[183][184]

In September and October 2010, Polgár played 3rd board for the Hungarian Men's team in the 39th Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. The team finished in fourth place losing the Bronze medal to Israel on tie-break. Playing more in 2010 than in recent years, Polgár finished fourth overall among Board three players with a 6/10 score.[178] Highlight for the Hungarian Men's team was a fifth-round victory over Russia I.[179] In November 2010, Polgár won the four-player rapid tournament which was held to celebrate the National University of Mexico's 100th anniversary. Polgár won a close opening match against Vassily Ivanchuk. She then crushed Veselin Topalov, a former world champion and ranked No. 1 in the world in 2009, 3½–½ to win the tournament.[180][181][182]

In 2010, Polgár began her return to competitive chess and would play more than she had in recent years. In March 2010, Polgár played a four-game match against GM Gregory Kaidanov at Hilton Head, South Carolina. It was required that each game begin with the Sicilian Defense. The match was drawn with each player winning two games.[173][174] In April 2010, Polgár played an eight-game rapid chess match against Czech GM David Navara which was part of the ČEZ Chess Trophy 2010 festival of the Prague Chess Society. Despite slightly higher ranking, 2708 to Polgár's 2682, Navara lost the match 6–2.[175] Polgár participated in the rapid chess tournament of the Presidential Chess Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan from 29 April to 1 May 2010. She finished with one win, two losses and four draws, tied for fifth position in the eight-player round robin. The tournament finished with a three-way tie for first with the winner, Kramnik being decided by Elo over Mamedyarov and Kamsky.[176] In June 2010, it was reported Polgár was assisting GM Zoltán Almási in training for the Olympiad.[177]

Return to competition

In November 2009, Polgár participated in the FIDE World Cup at Khanty Mansisyk in Siberia. Polgár made it to the third round of the knockout tournament until she was eliminated by tournament winner Boris Gelfand. She handed Gelfand his only loss of the tournament.[172]

In January 2008 she competed in the strong Corus Wijk aan Zee tournament, scoring a respectable 6/13 and tied 9–11 in the 14 player tournament.[170] In November 2008, Polgár had a terrible result in The World Chess Blitz Championship in Almaty, Republic of Kazakhstan, finished last of the 16 players with only 2½ points.[171] In November 2008, Polgár played the number 2 board for the Hungarian open ("men's") team in the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden, finishing 3½/8.

Polgár at the Mainz Chess Classic 2008

In May–June 2007 she played in the Candidates Tournament for the FIDE World Chess Championship 2007. She was eliminated in the first round, losing 3½–2½ to Evgeny Bareev. Some chess pundits said she was unprepared for the tournament and appeared affected by the fact that she had played less chess in the last three years to concentrate on her two children. However, she was still credited with the most beautiful attack of the tournament in her fifth game victory.[160] In July 2007, Polgár played in the Biel Chess Festival which was won by 16-year-old Magnus Carlsen. Polgár finished the 9 round tournament at 5–4 in a four-way tie for third to sixth place.[161][162] A highlight game for her was actually a draw. Polgár was playing an endgame of knight against knight and two connected passed pawns of Alexander Grischuk, but she was able to eliminate both pawns.[163][164] In October 2007, Polgár played in the Blindfold World Cup in Bilbao, Spain. Polgár finished in fourth place of the six players with three wins, four losses, and three draws. The tournament was won by Bu Xiangzhi of China, whose only loss was to Polgár.[165][166][167] In November 2007, she took part in Chess Champions League – Playing for a Better World in Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain a tournament to raise funds for equipment for a Hospital in Mbuji-Mayi, Congo. Polgár finished tied for third in the strong six-player tournament and handed tournament winner Veselin Topalov his only loss.[168][169]

Polgár participitated in the FIDE world blitz championship on 5–7 September 2006 in Rishon Le Zion, Israel. Blitz chess is played with each player having only 5 minutes for all moves. The round-robin tournament of 16 of some of the strongest players in the world, concluded with Alexander Grischuk finally edging out Peter Svidler in a tie-break to win the tournament. Polgár finished tied for fifth/sixth place, winning $5,625 for the three-day tournament.[154][155] Polgár tied with Boris Gelfand with 9½ points and won her individual game against Viswanathan Anand, at the time the world's No. 2 player.[156] In October 2006, Polgár scored another excellent result: tied for first place in the Essent Chess Tournament, Hoogeveen, Holland.[157] She scored 4½ out of 6 in a double round-robin tournament that included two wins against the world's top-rated player, Veselin Topalov. In December 2006, Polgár played a six-game match of blindfold rapid chess against former FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov. Topalov won the match 3½–2½ with two wins to Polgár's one.[158] Nearly 1,000 spectators attended the event.[159]

She did not play at the 2006 Linares tournament because she was pregnant again. On 6 July 2006, she gave birth to a girl, Hanna.

In September 2005, Polgár once again made history as she became the first woman to play for a World Championship, at the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005. However, she had a rare disappointing performance, coming last out of the eight competitors. Polgár "was unrecognizable in her first-round encounter with Viswanathan Anand", wrote GM Robert Byrne in his New York Times column, "making more errors than she normally would in a dozen games."[152] However, in her game against Veselin Topalov, Polgár pushed the eventual tournament winner and world champion to a seven-hour marathon before succumbing.[153]

Polgár returned to chess at the prestigious Corus chess tournament on 15 January 2005. The tournament, which was now considered by some as the most important in Europe, was won by fellow Hungarian Péter Lékó while Polgár scored 7/13 to tie for fourth with Alexander Grischuk, Michael Adams and Kramnik.[148] She was therefore relisted in the April 2005 FIDE rating list, gaining a few rating points for her better-than-par performance at Corus. In May she also had a better-than-par performance at a strong tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, finishing third.[149] This brought her to her highest ever rating, 2735, in the July 2005 FIDE list and enabled her to retain her spot as the eighth ranked player in the world.[150][151]

In 2004, Polgár took some time off from chess to give birth to her son, Olivér. She was consequently considered inactive and not listed on the January 2005 FIDE rating list. Her sister Susan reactivated her playing status during this period, and temporarily became the world's No. 1 ranked women's player again.[147]

Combining family and chess

By early 2003, Polgár had worked her way back into the top 10 rated players in the world.[134][135] In 2003, Polgár scored one of her best results: an undefeated clear second place in the Category 19 Corus chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, just a half-point behind future World Champion Viswanathan Anand, and a full point ahead of then-world champion Vladimir Kramnik. One of the highlight games of the tournament was Polgár's fourth round crushing victory over Anatoly Karpov. She played a novelty in the opening which she devised over the board. The game lasted 33 moves with Karpov down two pawns and his king exposed. Polgár admitted to "enjoying herself" by the end of the game.[136] In April 2003, Polgár finished second in The Hunguest Hotels Super Tournament in Budapest behind Nigel Short. She appeared headed for a first place victory in the tournament, but lost her game against compatriot Péter Lékó.[137][138][139] In June 2003, Polgár finished tied for third with Boris Gelfand, in the Enghien-les-Bains International Tournament in France, scoring 5½–3½, behind Evgeny Bareev who won the tournament and GM Michael Adams.[140] In August 2003, Polgár played an eight-game rapid chess match in Mainz, Germany against Viswanathan Anand, billed as the "Battle of the Sexes". After six games each player had won three games. Anand won the final two games to win the match.[141][142] In October 2003, Polgár won the 4–grandmaster Essent tournament in Hoogeveen, Netherlands. In one of her games against Karpov, he blundered, allowing Polgár to utilize a famous, ancient sacrifice first employed by Emanuel Lasker against Bauer in 1889.[143][144][145][146]

In October and November 2002, Polgár played on second board (with Péter Lékó on first) for Hungary in the 35th Chess Olympiad. While not having the stunning performance as she had in the 2000 Olympiad, she helped Hungary attain the silver medal for the event. While the Hungarians had the best win–loss record of the tournament as a team and lost only a single game of the 56 they played, they had won most of their matches by 2½–1½ scores, while the Russian team won gold as they piled up the points. However, Hungary gave the gold-winning Russian team its only defeat. Always the crowd-pleaser, Polgár roused the hall in her fourth round game against Azerbaijan's Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with a brilliant 12.Nxf7 drawing his king into the center of the board.[132][133]

In September 2002, in the Russia versus the Rest of the World Match, Polgár finally defeated Garry Kasparov in a game. The tournament was played under rapid rules with 25 minutes per game and a 10 second bonus per move. She won the game with exceptional positional play. Kasparov with black chose the Berlin Defence instead of his usual Sicilian and Polgár proceeded with a line which Kasparov has used himself. Polgár was able to attack with her rooks on Kasparov's king which was still in the centre of the board and when he was two pawns down, Kasparov resigned.[129] The game helped the World team win the match 52–48.[130] Upon resigning, Kasparov immediately left by a passageway barred to journalists and photographers. Kasparov had once described Polgár as a "circus puppet" and asserted that women chess players should stick to having children. Polgár called the game, "One of the most remarkable moments of my career."[88] The game was historic as it was the first time in chess history that a female player beat the world's No. 1 player in competitive play.[131]

Making history

In late February and early March 2001, Polgár played in the elite Linares double round-robin invitational of six of the world's strongest players. The tournament was Kasparov's triumph as he scored 7½ points in 10 games. The other five participants, Polgár, Karpov, Shirov, Grischuk and Lékó all finished with 4½ for second and last position. However, Polgár drew both her games with Kasparov, the first time in her career she had done this under tournament time controls.[122][123][124][125] In March 2001, she reached the semifinals of the World Cup rapid play tournament in Cannes. She made it to the final four from the 16 grandmasters in the tournament. She lost the semifinal match to Evgeny Bareev, who in turn lost to Kasparov. In a quarterfinal playoff blitz game, she forced Joël Lautier, France's strongest player, to resign in 12 moves when she won his queen which resulted in the audience of several hundred bursting into applause.[126] In June 2001, Polgár finished fourth in the European Championship in Ohrid, Macedonia, a 13-round Swiss-system tournament of 143 Grandmasters and 38 IMs.[127] In October 2001, she tied for first with GM Loek van Wely in the Essent Tourney in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands.[128]

In April and May 2000, Polgár won one of the strongest tournaments ever held in Asia. The Japfa Classic in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, was a category XVI event of 10 players in which included Alexander Khalifman–at the time FIDE world champion– and Anatoly Karpov–his predecessor.[114] Going into the last round four players, Polgár, Khalifman, Karpov and Gilberto Milos were tied, but Polgár won her game over Braziliam GM Milos while Khalifman and Karpov played against each other in a draw. Polgár finished clear first with 6½–2½, winning the $20,000 first place prize money.[115][116][117] At the end of May, she won the Sigeman & Company International Tournament in Malmö, Sweden. She finished the four-player double round-robin tournament scoring 4 points, with Jan Timman at 3½ with Ulf Andersson and Tiger Hillarp-Persson finishing in that order.[118] In June 2000, she played in the GM Tournament Mérida, State of Yucatán, finishing in second place a half point behind Alexei Shirov.[119] In September 2000, she shared first place in the Najdorf Chess Festival with Viktor Bologan, ahead of Nigel Short and Anatoly Karpov.[119] In October and November, she represented Hungary playing board 3 in the 34th Chess Olympiad. While the Hungarian team narrowly missed winning the Bronze medal, Polgár finished 10/13 for the second highest points total of any player in the Olympiad[120] and a rated performance level of 2772.[121]

In January 2000, Polgár had, for her, a disappointing result in a tournament in Pamplona, Spain, which was won by Nigel Short. She finished with only 4 points from 9 games, tied for 6–7 place with Jan Timman, who had also played below his rating.[111] Polgár had another disappointing result later in the month in the category XVIII tournament in Corus Wijk aan Zee which was won by Kasparov. She did not win her first game until the 11th round and finished with 5 points in 13 games, tied with Victor Korchnoi for 11–12 position among the fourteen GMs.[112] However, in the European Teams Championship in Batumi, Georgia, also in January, she won the gold medal playing Board 2, scoring 6½–2½.[113]

In October 1999, Polgár participated in the four-player GM section of the VAM Chess tournament in Hoogeveen, Netherlands. Jan Timman led early in the tournament, but Polgár staged a comeback scoring 3 points in the last 4 games to share first place. Anatoly Karpov finished in third and Darmen Sadvakasov last.[110]

In the two years since Polgár became the first woman to ever break into the top 10, her rating had dropped. Although she was in the top 20, this had the effect of her being invited less frequently to the strongest tournaments.[107]

[109] In November 1998, Polgár played in the Wydra Memorial Rapid chess tournament in Israel. She tied for first with Viswanathan Anand as both scored 11½ out of the 14 games. Anand won the tournament in a tie-break game over Polgár.[108][107] In October 1998, Polgár won the VAM four-grandmaster tournament in Hoogeveen, Netherlands by 1½ points over Jan Timman.[106] In June 1998 in Budapest, Polgár played an eight game match of "action" chess, which is 30 minutes for the entire game, against Anatoly Karpov. She won the match 5–3 by winning two games with the remaining ending in draws. At the time Karpov was the [104][103] In January 1998, she played in the category XVII event, the Hoogovens in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, in which 14 of the world's top grandmasters participated. She finished in the middle of the pack, tied for sixth–tenth position with Karpov, Topalov and Jeroen Piket and an even score of 6½ points in thirteen games. Polgár handed co-winner Vishwanathan Anand his only loss of the tournament.

In 1998 Polgár defeated Anatoly Karpov in a match of "action" chess (30 minutes per game). At the time Karpov was FIDE World Champion.

"There has long been a lively debate about who is the strongest player of all", wrote GM Robert Byrne in his New York Times column of Aug. 26, 1997. "Prominent candidates are Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov, Jose Raul Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine or Emanuel Lasker. But there is no argument about the greatest female player: she is 21-year-old Judit Polgár."[100]

In February 1997, she played in the Linares "supertournament" which Kasparov won by edging out Kramnik. Polgár finished in clear fifth position in the 12-GM tournament, ahead of Anand, Ivanchuk, Gelfand and Shirov.[94][95] Her result was considered exceptional considering the strength of the tournament, average 2701, and she was praised for her tactical skills in her game against Ivanchuk.[96] In April 1997, she played in the Dos Hermanas Chess tournament, a single-round robin category XIX event of 10 of the world's best players. She finished in sixth place with an even score of 4½–4½.[97][98] In June 1997, she finished with an even score, 4½–4½, in the Madrid 10-player GM tournament won by Topalov.[99] In July 1997, Polgár competed in the elite Dortmund International Tournament. She finished in fifth in the strong field of ten, ahead of players such as Anatoly Karpov.[100] In the tournament, she won playing with the black pieces against Veselin Topalov, at the time ranked fourth in the world. Topalov had the advantage until Polgár executed a deep positional sacrifice.[101] In October 1997, she tied for second in a double round-robin tournament of four grand masters in the VAM International Tournament in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands.[102]

Polgár is by far the strongest female chess player of all time.[1] In August 1996, Polgár participated in a very strong 10–player tournament in Vienna. There was a three–way tie for first between Karpov, Topalov and Boris Gelfand and a three–way tie for fourth between Kramnik, Polgár and Lékó.[91][92] In December 1996, Polgár played a match in São Paulo against Brazil's champion Gilbert Milos. The four games were played at 30 moves an hour with 30 minutes for the remainder of the game. Polgár won two, drew one and lost one and won $12,000 in prize money.[93]

Strongest female player ever

At Linares 1994, Polgár suffered a controversial defeat at the hands of then-world champion Garry Kasparov. The tournament marked the first time the 17-year-old Polgár was invited to compete with the world's strongest players. After four games she had two points.[84] During her match with Kasparov in the fifth round, the World Champion changed his mind after taking his hand off a piece, and moved the piece to a different square.[85][86] According to chess rules, once a player has released a piece, he cannot make a different move, so Kasparov should have been required to play his original move. Polgár said she did not challenge this because "I was playing the World Champion and didn't want to cause unpleasantness during my first invitation to such an important event. I was also afraid that if my complaint was overruled I would be penalized on the clock when we were in time pressure." She was unaware at the time that the re-move was caught on tape by a television crew: the videotape showed that Kasparov's fingers were free of the knight for about a quarter of a second. The tournament director was criticised for not forfeiting Kasparov when the videotape evidence was made available to him.[87] At one point Polgár reportedly confronted Kasparov in the hotel bar, asking him, "How could you do this to me?"[88] Kasparov told reporters that his conscience was clear, as he was not aware of his hand leaving the piece.[89] Although Polgár recovered by the end of the tournament, she went into a slump over the next six rounds, gaining only half a point.[84] In Chess for Dummies, James Eade commented on the game, writing, "If even world champions break the rules, what hope do the rest of us have?"[90]

Kasparov touch-move controversy

In 1995, the Isle of Lewis chess club in Scotland attempted to arrange a game between Polgár and Nigel Short in which the famous Lewis chessmen would be used. The Lewis chessmen is a chess set carved in the 12th century. However, the British Museum refused to release the set despite assurances that the players would wear gloves. Scottish member of parliament Calum MacDonald pointed out that the set would be safe, especially as chess was not a contact sport.[81] In the end, the Museum allowed the chess set to be displayed at the Isle of Lewis festival tournament, but they were not used in any games. Polgár won the double round-robin tournament of four GMs, scoring five points in the six games and winning both her games against Short.[82][83]

Lewis chessmen. In 1995, Nigel Short and Polgár were to play a game using the famous chess set, but the British Museum refused.

In September 1995, Polgár finished third with a score of 7-4 in the Donner Memorial in Amsterdam, behind Jan Timman and Julio Granda Zuniga, who tied for first, and ahead of Yasser Seirawan, Alexander Khuzman, Alexei Shirov, Alexander Khalifman, Alexander Morozevich and Valery Salov.[77] She secured a clear third place with a 21-move win over Shirov in her last game.[78][79] In the Antillean island of Aruba in November 1995, she played in a friendly match against Jeroen Piket of the Netherlands, at the time one of the top players in Europe. Despite being closely matched in ratings, Polgár won the match 6–2.[80]

In October 1994, she played in a tournament in Buenos Aires which was a tribute to an ailing Polugaevsky. Eight grandmasters participated, all considered contenders for the world championship: Karpov, Anand, Salov, Ivanchuk, Kamsky, Shirov, Ljubojević and Polgár. The tournament was unusual as Black in each game was required to play a Sicilian Defence, since Polugaevsky was considered the all-time authority on the opening.[74] This was to Polgár's advantage as it was her favourite. Against the elite competition she finished tied for third with Ivanchuk.[75][76]

In the summer of 1994, Polgár had the greatest success of her career to that point, when she won the Madrid International in Spain. Against a field which included Gata Kamsky, Evgeny Bareev, Valery Salov and Ivan Sokolov, she finished 7–2 and 1½ points ahead of second place.[72][73] Her performance rating for the tournament was 2778 against an opposition rated at 2672.[1]

In the summer of 1993, Bobby Fischer stayed for a time in the Polgár household. He had been living in seclusion in Yugoslavia due to an arrest warrant issued by the United States for violating the U.N. blockade of Yugoslavia with his 1992 match against Spassky, and for tax evasion. Susan Polgár met Bobby with her family and persuaded him to come out of hiding "in a cramped hotel room in a small Yugoslavian village".[69] During his stay, he played many games of Fischer Random Chess and helped the sisters analyse their games. Susan said, while he was friendly on a personal level and recalled mostly pleasant moments as their guest, there were conflicts due to his political views. On the suggestion of a friend of Fischer, a match of blitz chess between Fischer and Polgár was arranged and announced to the press. However, problems ensued between Fischer and László Polgár and Fischer cancelled the match, saying to a friend on whether the match would take place, "No, they're Jewish."[69][70][71]

In 1993, Polgár became the first woman to ever qualify for a men's Interzonal tournament. In March, she finished in a four-way tie for second place in the Budapest Zonal and won the tiebreaking tournament.[64][65][66] She then confirmed her status as one of the world's leading players, narrowly failing to qualify for the Candidates Tournaments at the rival FIDE and PCA Interzonal tournaments.[67][68]

Polgár then tied for first in the Hastings tournament held over New Year's, 1992–93. Russian GM Evgeny Bareev, at the time ranked eighth in the world, led going into tournament's last round, but was defeated by Polgár in their second individual game, allowing her to share first.[60] Immediately following the Hastings tournament, Polgár played an exhibition match in February against former World Champion, Boris Spassky. She won the match 5½–4½ and won the largest prize money to that point in her career of $110,000.[61] Polgár also participated in the Melody Amber tournament in Monaco which featured a blindfold tournament of 12 grandmasters. Anand and Karpov finished first, Ljubojević third, while Polgár finished in clear fourth with 6½ points from 11 rounds, ahead of other strong GMs such as Ivanchuk, Short, Korchnoi and her sister Susan.[62][63]

In 1993, Polgár defeated former World Champion Boris Spassky (pictured here in 1984) in an exhibition match.

In 1992, Polgár tied for second, behind Anatoly Karpov at the Madrid International in Linares. She and Russian GM Vladimir Epishin finished with 5½–3½.[57] In July 1992, she placed second in the Reshevsky Memorial in Manhattan finishing with four wins, five draws and no losses.[58] In September 1992, Polgár participated in a tournament held in Aruba in which a team of senior men's players competed against a team of top women players. The men's team consisted of Lev Polugaevsky, Wolfgang Uhlmann, Oscar Panno, Efim Geller, Borislav Ivkov and Vasily Smyslov. The women's team consisted of Judit and Zsuzsa Polgár, Pia Cramling, Chiburdanidze, Ketevan Arakhamia and Alisa Galliamova. The men won the tournament 39–33. The overall high scorer was Polugaevsky, 57 years old with Polgár, 16, finishing second with 7½–4½.[59]

In December 1991, Polgár achieved the grandmaster title by winning the Hungarian National Championship, at the time the youngest ever at 15 years, 5 months to have achieved the title. This beat Fischer's record by a month.[44][55] Hungary, one of the strongest chess-playing countries, had all but one of their strongest players participate in that year's championship, as only Zoltán Ribli was missing. Going into the last round, Polgár needed only a draw to achieve the GM title, but she won her game against GM Tibor Tolnai to finish first, with six points in nine games.[56] In January 1991, Judit's sister Susan had also earned the GM title. Susan had the distinction of being the first woman to earn the GM title by achieving three GM norms and achieving a rating over 2500 as previous female GMs, Nona Gaprindashvili and Maia Chiburdanidze, were awarded the title by winning the Women's World Championship.[17]


In October 1991, Judit finished with 5½–3½, tied for third to fifth position with Zoltán Ribli and John Nunn, at a tournament in Vienna.[53][54]

In 1990, Judit won the Boys section of the under-14 in the World Youth Chess Festival in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.[52] Also in 1990, Judit and her sisters represented Hungary on the Olympic women's team winning the gold medal. As of 2013, it is the last women-only tournament in which Judit would ever participate.[16]

[51][50], featuring Polgár was filmed. The documentary did not include an interview with Polgár as her father required payment.Chess Kids Although not released until 1996, in 1990 a documentary about children playing chess, [29]

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